Review: ÷ by Ed Sheeran

÷ by Ed SheeranLet’s begin this review with something superficially outrageous: Ed Sheeran is Taylor Swift. Both began as particularly relatable songwriters but prove to be cunning, calculating popsters when their initial formula brought them to the top. I know that sounds negative, but I promise it’s not. Just think of Ed’s last album, ×, and how it moved from the relative quiet of + with songs that aim for pop delights. At least he remained relatable while Taylor embraced her A-list status with increasing ostentatiousness. That brings us to ÷, Ed’s continued flirting with arithmetic, and a record that goes past what he did before – which explains the more outright rapping on “Eraser” and particularly “Galway Girl”, with that Irish pander… err, undertone. It’s an okay album, by all means: inoffensive, does its job. (“Castle on the Hill” makes me smile whenever it comes on.) But what exactly is Ed Sheeran’s job? Be relatable? He still trades on those ballads, although I don’t think anything here will reach the ubiquity of “Thinking Out Loud”. But then, by those standards of relatability, he’s distracted by his year-long travels and all the influences he’s sucked in (or taken note of) since. Ed tries a few other things – just enough to not look like he’s staying on his lane – but ultimately ÷ feels like it’s missing something. But then, it doesn’t matter in the long run. [NB]3/5

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